Posted: November 4, 2006
One might assume that modesty is hard to come by in Division I athletes who also happen to attend academically top-tier institutions. However, this is not the case with Lehigh’s student-athletes and no one exemplifies this trend more than senior women’s lacrosse student-athlete Inneke Carmola.
Carmola’s success is undeniable. Last season, she was ranked 35th in the country in assists per game. Since her freshman year, Carmola has been one of the Mountain Hawks star athletes. As a freshman, she was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year and since, Carmola has earned a pair of All-Patriot League selections.
In light of all of this, Carmola has remained grounded, “Honestly, I don’t like to look at those [rankings] because I think it just stresses me out and I think its more of a curse sometimes and takes away from the actual game,” she said.
Lehigh head coach Jill Redfern and assistant coach Kelly Putnam stressed over and over how Carmola’s commitment to the team overshadows her personal ambitions. Putnam said, “The biggest thing to highlight is her selflessness. It speaks to her ability to adapt to the different team members and different coaching staff and she’s very technically skillful.”
Carmola’s selflessness and commitment to the team is evident in her personality. While most players would be concerned with their individual success, Carmola said her greatest accomplishment has been, “making it to the Patriot League tournament every year since I’ve been here. Our win against Colgate was awesome last year because they were the number one seed so that was great. I think the level of play has increased so that’s been really cool to be a part of. Every year there’s been better and better people that come (into the program) so that increases the level of play.”
On and off the field, Redfern and Putnam view Carmola as a role model. With a major in biology and a minor in business, Carmola has a great deal to balance once lacrosse is thrown into the mix. Not only has she excelled in uniform, she was also named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll in 2009 and made the Dean’s List.
“Having lacrosse forces me to get my work done ahead of time. It’s a time management thing,” Carmola explained. She said since she has so much to juggle, it forces her to get it all done – which is the benefit of having it all thrown on her at once.
Redfern agrees, “I think she’s very good at time management and I think she uses her spare time very wisely. Our mantra for women’s lacrosse is to be dedicated to your academics and to lacrosse next and I think Inneke represents that very well. I think she has fun and enjoys the social life at Lehigh but not until she’s successful in her two biggest priorities.”
Besides the obvious commitment of schoolwork and lacrosse, Carmola is also involved in a fair amount of community service projects between being a merge mentor, serving in the C.O.A.C.H. Program, the SAM (Student-Athlete Mentor) program, Leadership Lehigh and being co-chair of the social events committee through athletics. Carmola clearly has a lot on her plate.
Having this type of role model who is dedicated to everything she’s involved in can only help a team grow.
Both Carmola and the coaching staff define Inneke as a “lead by example” kind of person. “I try and do the right thing in practice and on during games and hope that people will see that and want to follow my lead,” Carmola said.
Redfern agreed that she is a leader by example and had an interesting take on it. “When I describe it to our team, she’s like the duck that’s frantically paddling under water but you might not ever see her. She’s just going about, working hard, being productive,” Redfern said.
Carmola has big plans upon graduation in May. She hopes to continue playing lacrosse and wants to find a league to play in or get into coaching on some level. Professionally, Carmola does not plan to use the biology major that she will graduate with.
“I actually want to do something with sports business or some type of management, not really my biology major. Maybe I’ll do the business thing and then go back and get my MBA and use the biology to be a hospital administrator or something,” Carmola said.
This attitude, characterized by drive, is typical in Lehigh’s student-athletes who have learned to balance an overwhelming amount over four years. What’s Carmola’s favorite part about being a student-athlete?
“Being able to be competitive in an area outside of academics and being able to win and work hard with people that want the same things as you and have the same goals in terms of athletics,” Carmola said.
Clearly she loves a challenge and Redfern evidently thinks she handles all of her endeavors gracefully.
“She’s just a great representative of our program. She’s a great ambassador to Lehigh women’s lacrosse,” Redfern said.
Carmola and the Mountain Hawks begin official practice for the spring season on January 25. Their season opener is slated for Saturday, February 20 versus Mount St. Mary’s at the Ulrich Sports Complex.
Story written by Rachel Sachs ‘10